Futon daiko is the word in Japanese for the kind of portable shrine pictured in the title image. Last week there was a futon daiko festival in Akashi, a town a good hour or more west of Osaka. My son, Gerard, is somewhere in the title image, but I can’t tell you where.
futon = bed; taiko = a kind of drum (phonetic note: when taiko is combined with another word, it becomes daiko)
Futon Daiko: Shinto Shrine Committee Meeting #1
So, just how did that first shrine committee meeting go, way, way, way back when?
A: “We have a god that we need to take out for a spin around town on occasion, right? Well, I have an idea. Let’s carry him on a bed.”
B: “Great, but, seeing that he’s a god, we need two, no, three beds.”
C: “Three beds, good. Okay, the people have to know when we’re coming, so we’ll need a drum.”
D: “Easy. Build a box. Put the drum inside. Put the beds on top.”
B: “Good thinking. Of course, we’ll need to decorate it.”
C: “Really decorate it. Give the thing some heft, too. Make it 500 pounds. Carry it around on poles.”
B: “Nah, make it a thousand pounds, at least. Maybe more. Up to two thousand, I’d say. We’ll use thick poles.”
A: “What are we going to call it?”
Thoughtful silence. Then D perks up. “Let’s call it Bed Drum.”
They all clap their hands once in approval and get to work.
Futon Daiko: Variations
These guys decided one big huge bed was the way to go:
How about blue?
Futon Daiko: Shinto Shrine Committee Meeting #2
A: “Loving the look of Bed Drum.”
B: “Me, too, but I don’t think we should carry a god around in it. We need something even fancier for a god.”
C: “I agree, but let’s table that discussion for later. For now it’s enough to have someone inside the box beating the drum.”
D: “Well, there could also be a couple of guys on either side of it, maybe dancing.”
A: “Also, the guys – and we need forty of them – all have to be wearing the same thing. Whatever is traditional in their town.”
(Where is this town, exactly? JTA)
Futon Daiko: Shinto Shrine Committee Meeting #3
A: “Bed Drum is a hit. All the shrines in the area have one.”
B: “They’re all looking pretty good, too, and getting out in the street from time to time.”
C: “Yeah, doing their job of … uh, what is their job?”
Consternated silence. D pipes up, “Whatever they’re doing, they look great doing it.”
A: “So great that we should get a bunch of them together. Have a festival.”
B: “Twenty Bed Drums together would be awesome. Make a procession.”
C: “Fine idea. They’ll start in a staging area then proceed to an open field for an exhibition.”
C: “We’ll need someone to keep it organized and moving along.”
D: “No problem. Butterfly Guy fits the bill.”
A: “Perfect. So, we’ll put four Bed Drums out in the field at once and have the teams display their strength.”
B: “How long should they go at it?”
C: “Fifteen minutes?”
D: “Twenty, at least. Thirty, tops.”
A: “That’s settled, then. Meeting adjourned.”
Here is Gerard after the performance of Akashi’s Prince (Ogi) Shrine. He is very happy because that darned thing is heavy – and they carried it for about twenty-five minutes!
Note: his shoes are called tabi.
See also: Japan Archives
This post was written by Julie Tetel Andresen